A mysterious object will fly past the Earth tomorrow and scientists are still not sure what it is.
According to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), an object called 2020 SO by astronomers will arrive within 31,605 miles of our planet within “just” 31,605 miles on December 1 at 3:50 am ET.
This is an “extremely close,” safe, approach, that the object passes at a distance equal to about 13 percent of the average distance between our planet and the moon, said the virtual telescope project astronomer Gianluca Masi Newsweek.
The object, which is estimated to measure between 15–33 feet, was discovered on September 17, 2020 by a Pan-StarRS survey located in Maui, Hawaii. The discovery was confirmed two days later by the Minor Planet Center, responsible for the designation of minor bodies in the solar system.
Initial observations suggested that the object was an asteroid. But CNEOS scientists soon began to suspect that the 2020 SO was not a normal asteroid.
“We are not sure if it is an asteroid – a natural body,” Masi wrote on the website of the Virtual Telescope Project.
CNEOS director Paul Chodas later suggested that the 2020 SO might not be an asteroid, it temporarily identifies it as a Centaur rocket booster from NASA’s failed Surveyor 2 lunar mission, launched on September 20, 1966. it was done.
He came to this conclusion after driving the object’s orbit backwards using a computer model to return the clock and take out its previous trajectory from space.
Chodas found that the object had already passed close to the Earth several times over the past several decades, including a moment that indicated it might actually launch from Earth according to NASA.
Chodas said in a statement, “One of the possible paths of 2020 SO brought it very close to the Earth and the Moon in late September 1966.” “It was like a Eureka moment when a quick check of launch dates for lunar missions showed a match with the Surveyor 2 mission.”
The object’s low relative velocity and orbital plane also supported the argument that the object was probably not of natural origin.
The 2020 SO was captured by Earth’s gravity on 8 November, and calculations show that it will orbit around our planet until March 2021 as a floating satellite, before it orbits around the Sun. Come back to a new class.
As 2020 SO approaches Earth, astronomers will have to inspect the object to determine whether it is indeed a piece of space junk from the 1960s.